Friday, 25 February 2011

Time for one of all time greats to hang up his boots

Sitting down to watch the United v Maresille game on Wednesday night, I never imagined that I would be later thinking it would be time for one of United's greatest ever to hang up his boots. Hear me out on this one but I think it's time for Paul Scholes to retire. And not just due to the embarrassment of having to face the fact that Darren Gibson was picked ahead of him. I genuinely think it's time for United to say thanks for everything and move on.

Scholes is, it could be argued, the best midfielder in United's squad, however this has been down to a lack of real competition for that title over the last 12 months rather than anything hugely special that he has done.

I took one look at the United midfield on Wednesday night and was genuinely fearful. Gibson, Fletcher and Carrick. Which one of those would you put in an Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, city, or even Liverpool midfield for that matter?

The fact that a 36 year old was been called upon to try and bring some creativity is in all honesty not good enough for a team that wants to be competing for league titles and European Cups.

The whole of the centre of midfield needs to be looked at starting from the holding player which I guess at the moment is a combination of Carrick and Scholes depending on formation and selection. The supposed role of the 'water carrier' in midfield is to strip the opponent of the ball and give it off to the more creative ones, or at least do something with it himself. In his near five years at Old Trafford I can honestly say I have seem Carrick win no more than 10 tackles and enough has been documented about Scholes lack of ability to tackle. Fletcher it could be argued could play that role but after a return to his 2006 form this season I'm not convinced. This role was made for Hargreeves and it's clear that sadly his days are numbered. United have to look elsewhere here.

From an attacking point of view Anderson, I'm fairness to the lad, has had a good season after many fans had written him off. Yet he is the only player United have who has the confidence to pick up the ball 30-40 yards from his own goal and drive at the heart of the opposition.
Whist Anderson does bring that to the table it can certainly be argued that there is a little creative spark missing from his game that can open up defences.

Whilst Scholes clearly does posses this ability, the problem is that he is sometimes too far behind play to effect anything. The game has to be played at a slower pace in order for him to be effective. This isn't his fault, he's 36 years old for god sake!

What I am trying to get at here is that once Scholes goes, the three that started against Marseille and Anderson are United’s four central midfielders. This frightens me. Why? Because there is not one player there that would frighten Barcelona, Real or Bayern who are probably the three best teams left in the Champions League right now. However I think it does need to happen now so Fergie will realise that what he has left is nowhere near good enough and that changes must be made.

So where do United go? In a perfect world Wesley Sniejder would be wearing red next season but I can't see it happening. A more realistic signing would be someone like Modric, however I think that hinges on how Spurs fare this season. If they fail to make the Champions league then he could end up at OT, but if they do make the top 4, I can't see him leaving. Elsewhere Fiorentina’s Riccardo Montolivo may be an option but in all honesty it's slim pickings.

The same could be said for the earlier mentioned holding role. One stand out player is Everton’s Jack Rodwell who looks a class act all the way. The big question here is would Everton sell another prize asset to United? Everyone has a price but somehow I can't see United spending 30 million on him.

So where does that leave United? Well it means that the scouts are going have to pull something out of the bag a little better than Obertan and Bebe. You can’t replace a player like Paul Scholes, but United must and they must act quickly.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Transfer Deadline Day thoughts

A mate of mine sent me a text asking if I was going to blog on the hilarity that was deadline day. Having spent most of it in work and then playing football, i missed out on the Sky Sports overkill and as a result didn't really feel like I would be able to write anything. However due to the madness of King Kenny and the arrival of the former golden boy of Merseyside in West London my mate won't go disappointed.

Starting with Carroll, let's get one thing straight; it's not his fault that he has gone for such a ludicrous price. However unless Liverpool change their style of play rapidly, he will struggle initially. Liverpool don't play with any width whatsoever and whilst he is more than capable with his feet, Carroll's strength is in the air and with a lack of service from the flanks he could find life on the red side of Liverpool difficult early on. Carroll can't be judged on this season but his high transfer fee means that he will be. On a completely different point, when Dalglish and Carroll met, could anyone else in the room understand a word that was said? Seriously I would have been amazed.

The biggest losers out of this are the Geordies, who despite pocketing £35m will be losing a lot more than that if they don't stay up this season. Without giving themselves anytime to get a proper replacement, Ashley has once again left them in the muck. Not that he cares.

Another highlight on deadline day was as usual, Harry Redknapp. I heard him on five live around 8.45 saying that he had put in one bid and that was for Phil Neville. "I'm going to head back to the hotel and put my feet up with a cup of tea and a sandwich." Anyone who believed him must have been mental and sure enough come the end of the night Charlie Adam was nostril hair away from becoming a Spurs player. Redknapp can always be counted on for some sort of entertainment on deadline day.

Speaking of Adam he hasn't exactly come out of the window as a winner. You can’t blame him for wanting to join Liverpool or Spurs, not one bit. But for his old man to call Blackpool a "cheap skate club" was one of the more ridiculous things you'll hear all year. The same "cheap skate club" that redirected your sons’ career. Seriously!!!

There wasn't a lot of movement in the top three with the exception of the fantastic rumour that City wanted to LOAN ( that's right, LOAN) Sebastian Larson from Brum. Yeah, that will end the trophy drought.

And I'll finish with Torres who has finally got the move to the big club he had been dreaming of all these years. Hold on a minute, I thought he got that in 2007. Quick history lesson Fernando ; whilst what you said made me chuckle, the facts speak for themselves. Liverpool is a proper football club built on winning trophies (although there's been a distinct lack of them recently) whilst Chelsea is a club built on a Russian Oligarchs cash and a few titles. That said though, signing for Chelsea does give him a better chance of winning trophies.

Liverpool should have got rid in the summer. He hasn't looked interested all season long, with the exception of ironically enough the Chelsea game when he scored two. Perhaps he was trying to prove a point to Abramovich. I asked a friend of mine who is a season ticket holder at Anfield what he thought and after using the 'C' word to describe his former hero, he said that there is no loyalty in football anymore. Well no there isn't. But the reality is that we shouldn't be surprised one bit by anything. In my first blog in July I talked about U.S basketball star Lebron James and how he shamelessly defecated on the entire Cleveland fan base. In the same blog I talked about how Tevez had done something very similar (in my eyes anyway) to United fans. Since I wrote this, Rooney, Tevez (AGAIN!!!) and now Torres have all either left or threatened to leave their respective clubs for various reasons, with fans of these clubs asking for loyalty. In reality we shouldn't expect anything because players are just like me and you; if someone offers them more money their head will turn, no matter how much they are currently on. I'm not saying its right, but it's a fact.

At the end of the day the Scousers have got good money for Torres, I'm just not sure they have spent it all that wisely.